Alright, let’s get real. I am a massive SABATON fan until they give me a reason not to be. That said, I was very unimpressed with 2016’s The Last Stand, save for “Blood of Bannockburn,” even though the tour kicked ass. But I wasn’t giving up on the band because even the one time they put out a record that isn’t quite up to snuff, you can always count on an amazing live show from them. So I had high hopes for new release The Great War (out now, Nuclear Blast Records), a concept album dealing with World War I. Much like IRON MAIDEN with SABATON you get a history lesson along with the music, so everybody wins.
So let’s dive in, whaddaya say? Right from the start of opener “The Future of Warfare” I knew we were in for a good ‘un. “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” only cemented that knowledge. I even messaged the lovely Kristin from NB to tell her, “Two songs in and this already buries the last album!” I am nothing if not honest, and she both knows and appreciates that. “82nd All the Way” is a track that simply must be played live on the next tour. I guarantee the floors will be shaking in venues everywhere as audiences jump with vocalist Joakim Brodén night after night. “The Attack of the Dead Men” has some of my favorite lyrics on the record, and it’s an excellent track with an outstanding guitar solo to boot.
The punch of “Devil Dogs” will have you ready to run through a wall, while “The Red Baron” opens with some evil organ play before pressing down the guns in full attack mode. Suffice to say this one was another instant winner for yours truly. “Great War” is definitely a tune I can see the band doing live, as it’s a real headbanger/bobber for sure. Speed and power are the order of the day on “A Ghost In the Trenches”, along with an infectious chorus. The same can be said for “Fields of Verdun” another earworm on an album full of them. “The End of the War to End All Wars” starts with some piano and strings, and then we are transported to the sonic battlefield as mortar fire erupts all around us.
The album ends with a chorus singing the classic John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields”, which he wrote after the funeral of a friend during World War I, and it is quite moving. So when all is said and done, it’s nice to see SABATON back to making the music I know they’re capable of with The Great War. Song after song will get stuck in your head for hours, days even. And I guaran-damn-tee that their live show this fall will rock every man, woman, child, and building to their very foundations. Grab your copy today!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Red Baron”, “The Attack of the Dead Men”, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, “82nd All the Way”, “A Ghost In the Trenches”